Good morning dear friends. Today I decided I would like to touch on a topic near and dear to my heart, journaling. Wait! Don’t scatter!! I am not talking about your typical style of journaling rather creative journaling.
In the linked article you will find the author goes into a brief history about creative journaling, proper strategy’s that result in therapeutic benefits, as well as her personal experience with creative journaling. I have yet to define what it is creative journaling is for me. At the moment I would say that it is more so me combining designs and techniques in search of my own individual style. I am finding that I struggle to actually journal over the pretty collaging and choose to add my journaling to a separate piece of decorated paper and attach it or put it in a pocket on the page I came up with.
The more and more I practice I seem to improve but I have to be honest when I say I still struggle with perfection and achieving desired results. I am too hard on myself and I am an unforgiving critic. I assumed that such creative journaling would come easy to me because of the habit I have developed over the course of 30 years of journal writing but that hasn’t been my experience. Others compliment my work but I am not to the point of where I am satisfied. I put creating journals on hold in order to focus on my own development whuch in return will improve those I look to sell.
More and more I am noticing how badly I screw things up by not allowing them to be. How do I stop this cycle and just be free?? Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below. Please do not allow my experience to keep you from giving this a go. I refuse to stop and I will continue to work through this.
You may have found yourself needing an outlet to release your fears or worries, your personal struggles or you may simply enjoy writing for memory purposes. Whichever the case, I would love to introduce you to creative journaling.
Give me a second of your time and I’ll explain in further detail what creative journaling means to me.
If you search on Instagram you can hashtag search creative planning and millions of photos will be at your fingertips. I first discussed creative planning at the beginning of the new year. It is where you decorate your planner pages using sticker kits, markers, washi tape, decorative paper clips… you get the picture…
It isn’t that this form of journaling/planning is more productive or has superpowers that take you to Oz but what it does do is it adds character to your pages and breaks the monotony of a blank, white page.
There are a million ways you can approach this style of journaling. Personally I achieve unique pages by layering bits of ephemera from my day to day life or by pulling from my insane collection, where I go on to create a background for my writing.
You can either hide your writing under the layers of paper so that only you know what lies beneath or you can add your writing to a separate piece of paper and then add it to the college of papers you’ve glued down. Here is a more visual description.
A random yet brilliant idea for you authors out there!
This doesn’t have to be exclusively for your personal info. You can use the idea when creating a piece of fiction writing. Sketch what each character looks like, to you, on a piece of paper and adhere it to your page. From there you can write out ways to describe them using specific adjectives that make your character come to life.
You can do this with each setting, every character, and you will have a visual and written representation of your ideas. Begin a fresh page with a new chapter and this will help to organize your thoughts for the book you are writing!! Buy a cheap notebook and dedicate it to use for this idea!!
It creates interest when you layer specific papers to your pages. The papers used do not have to mean anything because it is about writing your thoughts. Or..you can be like me and use a mixture of meaningful papers and decorative papers. That’s the beauty of it. It is all personal preference and totally up to you. What’s even better is that you can make a mistake and cover it up with a layer of paper 🙂 The sky’s the limit.
My tendency to become obsessed with ideas that include bit and pieces of paper that accumulate from everyday life is off the charts. From my earliest years, I’ve held on to notes written from friends, tickets from concerts, wristbands from waterparks, movie ticket stubs and anything else that brought back to life a moment in time that I enjoyed. Due to an invasion of privacy, any memories kept prior to my sophomore year went up in flames.
Keeping journals and other bits and pieces of paper became a routine of stuffing in designated drawers and writing in code so that if there were another breach in privacy, the perpetrator would not know specifics. These pieces of my life remain in a trunk stored in my storage unit while my journaling is scattered among notebooks. Since stumbling upon creative journaling I have made it my mission to gather any and all papers and combine them to best of my ability. My ultimate goal would be to bind them together in one book for my daughter to have when I am gone. Will that happen? I hope so.
Other forms of creative journaling
My code writing days have become more elusive with my give a damn and my life of collecting papers along the way has doubled with an influx of ideas. Using everyday papers collected from your experiences and adding them to your journaling is referred to as junk journaling. Oh, the possibilities paper holds!! Hours upon hours have been spent watching YouTube videos of creating memory masterpieces transforming my love of paper into an idea catalog that I haven’t quite yet to organize but I am getting there. Much to my surprise, this creative endeavor has led to the discovery of art journaling, glue books, and a travelers notebook system. Talk about paper heaven!! I can’t get enough.
I have made it my mission to combine vintage and modern designs with designer paper as well as daily junk paper to create memory keeping books for others to record and store their most precious moments. May 2, 2018, I declared my beginning of a creative journey and boy let me tell ya a journey it’s been. The hours I have invested in research, trial and error, practice using my own life’s memories, creating a studio, organizing and reorganizing my new space, shopping, purchasing, disassembling books and magazines, cutting, gluing…can not be totaled. The best part is that I have LOVED every minute of it!!
There is a new series presented by Beckie of the blog Beckie’s Mental Mess. If you are not following her journey, you are missing out!! If you have ever read the comment section of any given post here on R.O.E., you will have read Beckie’s input.
As a very supportive blogger and friend dear to me, I am honored she reached out and asked me to participate in her series. These days my blogging life is hit and miss and I appreciate the personal invite. This is the first of the first as Beckie’s first prompt challenge. Her intentions are to target the mental health community of bloggers.
Here, I’ll let her do the explaining…
Each week I will ask a question or questions pertaining to mental health or I will even go as far as posting a surprise. Your job if you so choose to join along, is to write a post on your own blog, and creating a ping-back to the original post.
It is up to you the reader to decide if you want to write a non-fictional or fictional piece, poetry, short prose… Whatever you like and/or whatever you feel most comfortable doing. Whatever you choose to do, I will, therefore, reblog what you have written. This is one way to not only promote your site but also spread awareness to all things mental health related.
As an added bonus… Since there are so many different mental health illnesses/disorders, YOU, the blogger can send me a comment as to what you would like to be the next question (s), and they will be addressed in future posts.
What is the reason behind the “Mental Health Prompt of “Working on Us” (?) It’s fairly simple actually. I’d like this series to be an all-inclusive mental health community blog in order to be a source of more support towards one another. Idea’s, suggestions, and advice can be shared amongst the group.
So, Are We Ready? I am going to start with two prompts. You can pick one or both, and again, you can choose how you want this to be written.
Prompt #1 – Question:
When you first found out that you had a mental illness/disorder, what was your first reaction? Explain, how this new revelation regarding your health affected you?
Prompt #2 – Picture:
Reminder: This is the first time I conducting “Prompts” so forgive me if I’m doing something wrong. 🙄
Select one or the other or both prompts. Write your own non-fictional, or fictional piece, or poetry, short story, (Whatever you want), then create a ping-back or copy your post and enter it in the comment section of this post.
There ya have it, straight from the horse’s mouth!!
Hey, Y’all!! Keeping with the theme of stationery, today I will provide some basic information about paper sizing. We all know that there are different sizes and types of paper available for purchase but possibly not the exact sizing. How does this information help you? Well, if you like to schedule your daily life then a planner may be necessary. Planners come in a variety of sizes and finding your planner peace often depends on finding the perfect size planner that suits your needs. This is also true when deciding on notebooks sizes.
You don’t have to be into planning to benefit from the following information. The sizes of paper matter when printing as well.
Paper sizes are measured on a standard paper size scale. International standard (ISO) specifies paper sizes used in most countries except for the U.S. and Canada which size their own sizing standard.
There are a lot of mathematical formulas behind A, B, and C paper sizes but the common feature is that any successive paper size measurement is determined by halving the dimensions of the preceding one.
Notebook Paper Size A Series
A3 11.7 X 16.5 inches
A4 8.3 X 11.7 inches
A5 5.8 X 8.3 inches
A6 4.1 X 5.8 inches
A7 2.9 X 4.1 inches
Examples of commonly printed items are:
Remember: The larger the number, the smaller the paper size.
Notebook Paper Size B Series
B5 6.9 X 9.8
B6 4.9 X 6.9
B7 3.5 X 4.9
Paper Weight (GSM)
Grams per meter squared (GSM) refers to the paper’s weight, its thickness. Generally the thicker/heavier the paper, the better its quality, unless we consider Japanese papers and then we have a new ball game. Japanese stationer’s bring a different contender to the game of paper in terms of quality. They offer thin, soft papers for calligraphy that show no bleed through. That makes for a separate post.
Back to standard paper – The thicker the paper the less tendency to bleed through or feather when using wet ink pens, ie. fountain pens. I prefer marker pens which have a tendency to bleed through when using writing paper but with a thicker stock paper, it does not.
Types of Paper
Text paper (office paper) ~ lightweight 20 lbs budget-friendly, medium 22-24lbs, heavy 28-32 lbs pen will not bleed through
Bristol ~ lightest cardstock, most commonly used, 100lb for card making projects
Index ~ sturdier cardstock, smoother than Bristol
Cover ~ much thicker, invitations, cards
Both uncoated and coated papers can have a polished finish. The polished types are gloss, semi-gloss, silk, and matte.
7 Categories of Paper
Need to Know Info: Paper has a history that can be traced back to the 2nd-century in China. The use of paper has a large impact on the environment in terms of trash and deforestation. The use and production of recycled paper are more prevalent today because of environmental factors.
The extent of information provided is condensed, as you can imagine the scope of information related to stationery. If you work in an office setting you are likely to have learned about paper sizing, type, and finish without realizing you have done so. Printing requires paper settings to achieve a desired result. Next time you are printing, take note of the settings and the options you are given, This is an easy way to familiarize yourself with the information you just read in terms of real life situations.
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” – Robin S. Sharma
Some may easily confuse the concepts of diary writing and journaling. Diary writing is when you record the events of the day whereas journaling can lend itself as a therapeutic tool that explores the thoughts and feelings surrounding the events in your life. Like any habit, journaling has to become routine in order to reap the benefits.
It takes patience and practice to establish a rhythm. In order for it to be productive, in striving for mental balance, it must be effective journaling. What is effective journaling? It is journaling that helps you meet your goals or improves your quality of life. Writing down your feelings helps you to connect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and it acts as a buffer for reducing the symptoms of mental illness.
We will explore the benefits of journaling for mental health, tailoring the process to get the most from journaling, ending with referenced statements from those of authority.
Tailor the process
Keep in mind there is no right or wrong method of journaling. It is an individual process meant to connect oneself with their emotions. While some can journal on the go, others may require a quiet, soothing environment. Journaling is a personal preference experience that you must tailor to fit your needs. It may take time to discover your journaling style but once you find it, you feel it. The ways of journaling are limitless!
If you cannot think of what to write about you can scour the internet for prompts, you can use your journal as a creative space to explore your feelings or do a mixture of the two. It is all up to you on how the process looks but it is important to allow it to be a healthy way of self-expression.
Journaling, for me, is a setting. In order for me to lose myself in my journal, I must achieve a level of comfort which I find in seclusion. My surrounding must be relaxing and quiet with no distractions. It is also a mood for me. I find I best describe my experiences with depression. I do not prefer this to be my mood but it is when writing my feelings becomes most effective in a healing aspect.
The most difficult idea to surpass is the invasion of privacy. Writing your most intimate thoughts down leaves you vulnerable and the fear of someone discovering our deepest thoughts is paralyzing. While I cannot guarantee privacy I can guarantee you will benefit from the practice of journaling.
From my own traumatic experience, I will say this… reading someone else’s personal writings is disrespectful and none of your business. There is always a debatable reason when it comes to the privacy of your child but this is not the case today. Reading the raw emotions of another without their permission should be prohibited as a common human law. Doing so crosses boundaries and ruins trust and with me, friendships. The only time it is ok is when the person is deceased.
How do you tailor it?
You may not know where to begin in your journaling journey and thank goodness I came prepared.
I recommend first purchasing a book that you designate as your journal. This can be a notebook or a journal book that you buy from the book store.
Second I choose a pen or pencil depending on my mood. Ideally, this would be the only tool I use but it never works out that way.
Next is the part you must figure out. Your setting. I recommend trying all different kinds of places. The library, the park, in the woods, on the bus on your way to work or in your room. Do you allow yourself to be free with music? If so, play music.
For myself, I carry a travel notebook with an insert dedicated to thoughts. Throughout the day, if I am needing to get things out of my head, I will jot down words that reference what I am dealing with at the moment and later I use these words to guide a journal entry.
This works well for me and enables me to remember what I was feeling in the moment otherwise I may forget. It took me a while to figure out what works best for me. I am easily distracted and find it difficult to think in depth when the environment is noisy. Using the travel notebook allows me to document on the go yet journal at home.
Finally, decide the direction you desire and remember you can change it up at any time because it is your space. I recommend following prompts until you reach a point when you feel you get the gist of choosing a topic.
Last, write. Make sure to take note of how the process makes you feel.
Take note of how the process makes you feel. If you do not feel confident, that comes with practice but if you do not feel comfortable evaluate your environment. Change whatever it is that doesn’t suit your needs.
Journaling for mental health benefits looks different from “just journaling”. The subject of mental health encompasses a wide range of disorders. These disorders are accompanied by symptoms that hinder the way we approach life while some debilitate us. Journaling to receive benefits works best when following a specific method. Many times your counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist may recommend a particular method of journaling to enhance your results.
Now let’s break it down further to discuss more specific areas that effective journaling can act as a therapeutic tool. Depression, anxiety, stress management, PTSD, and substance abuse recovery have shown impressive results from writing your thoughts regarding current or past events.
This is not a substitute for receiving professional help. It is merely a tool used to help alleviate the symptoms experienced from mental illness often suggested by a professional.
Below you will find statements in regard to specific mental instabilities and how journaling can be used as an effective tool.
Expressive writing can reduce symptoms of depression in women who are struggling with the aftermath of intimate partner violence (Koopman, Ismailji, Holmes, Classen, Palesh, & Wales, 2005).
Writing in a journal may also be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for reducing symptoms of depression in high-risk adolescents (Stice, Burton, Bearman, & Rohde, 2006).
Expressive journaling may not reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts in depressed individuals, but it moderates their impact on depressive symptoms, leading to a reduction in symptoms (Lepore, 1997).
Journaling can help college students who are vulnerable to depression reduce their brooding and rumination, two contributing factors of depressive symptoms (Gortner, Rude, & Pennebaker, 2006).
In general, people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder reported significantly lower depression scores after three days of expressive writing, 20 minutes per day (Krpan, Kross, Berman, Deldin, Askren, & Jonides, 2013).
Writing in a journal can positively impact your anxiety through:
Calming and clearing your mind.
Releasing pent-up feelings and everyday stress.
Letting go of negative thoughts.
Exploring your experiences with anxiety.
Writing about your struggles and your successes.
Enhancing your self-awareness and teaching you about your triggers.
Track your progress as you undergo treatment (Star, 2018).
Through mechanisms like those listed above, journaling has been shown to:
Reduce anxiety in patients with multiple sclerosis (Hasanzadeh, Khoshknab, & Norozi, 2012).
Reduce physical symptoms, health problems, and anxiety in women (LaClaire, 2008).
Help students manage their stress and anxiety and improve their engagement and enhance meaning found in the classroom (Flinchbaugh, Moore, Chang, & May 2012).
Keeping a journal can help you fully explore your emotions, release tension, and fully integrate your experiences into your mind (Scott, 2018). Further, it can help you work on reducing specific sources of stress or aid you in reaching an important goal (perhaps reducing your overall stress?).
Decreasing symptoms of various health conditions
Improving your cognitive functioning.
Strengthening your immune system.
Examining your thoughts and shifting your perspective.
Reducing rumination and promoting action.
Planning out your options and considering multiple outcomes of a situation (Scott, 2018).
It’s hypothesized that writing works to enhance our mental health through guiding us towards confronting previously inhibited emotions (reducing the stress from inhibition), helping us process difficult events and compose a coherent narrative about our experiences, and possibly even through repeated exposure to the negative emotions associated with traumatic memories (i.e., “extinction” of these negative emotions; Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).
In order for it to have a positive effect on our mental health, we must journal with purpose. Baikie & Wilhelm suggest the following:
Write in a private and personalized space that is free from distractions.
Write at least three or four times, and aim for writing consecutively (i.e., at least once each day).
Give yourself some time to reflect and balance yourself after writing.
If you’re writing to overcome trauma, don’t feel obligated to write about a specific traumatic event—journal about what feels right in the moment.
Structure the writing, however, feels right to you.
Keep your journal private; it’s for your eyes only—not your spouse, not your family, not your friends, not even your therapist (although you can discuss your experience with your therapist, of course!).
Another good set of guidelines on effective journaling can be found on the Center for Journal Therapy website. When you journal, remember the simple acronym: WRITE!
W – What do you want to write about? Think about what is going on in your life, your current thoughts and feelings, what you’re striving towards or trying to avoid right now. Give it a name and put it all on paper.
R – Review or reflect on it. Take a few moments to be still, calm your breath, and focus. A little mindfulness or meditation could help in this step. Try to start sentences with “I” statements like “I feel…”, “I want…”, and “I think…” Also, try to keep them in the present tense, with sentence stems like “Today…”, “Right now…”, or “In this moment…”
I – Investigate your thoughts and feelings through your writing. Just keep going! If you feel you have run out of things to write or your mind starts to wander, take a moment to refocus (another opportunity for mindfulness meditation!), read over what you have just written, and continue on.
T – Time yourself to ensure that you write for at least 5 minutes (or whatever your current goal is). Write down your start time and the projected end time based on your goal at the top of your page. Set a timer or alarm to go off when the time period you have set it up.
E – Exit strategically and with introspection. Read what you have written and take a moment to reflect on it. Sum up your takeaway in one or two sentences, starting with statements like “As I read this, I notice…”, “I’m aware of…”, or “I feel…” If you have any action items or steps you would like to take next, write them down now (Adams, n.d.).
The above is a great way to guide yourself through the act of journaling. It eliminates any doubts you may have about the process.
“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” – Natalie Goldberg
Last but not least, what effects does journaling have on recovery?
If you are suffering in the aftermath of a traumatic event, journaling can help you find the good in life. It can even help you see the positive side of experiencing the trauma, which helps reduce the severe symptoms that can accompany trauma (Ullrich & Lutgendorf, 2002).
If you are grappling with an eating disorder, journal writing can be a huge source of relief and healing. Keeping a journal can help you stop distancing yourself from your issues, encourage you to confront your problems head-on, and reduce the obsessive component of your disorder (Rabinor, 1991).
If you are struggling with a debilitating psychiatric condition, journaling can help you get your thoughts down on paper and stop ruminating and worrying over them. This can free up your mind to manage your emotions and cope with stress that could trigger a relapse (Provencher, Gregg, Mead, & Mueser, 2002).
If the recovery you seek is for the death of a loved one, one of the most traumatic and heartbreaking events of all, journaling can help with that as well. Writing can give you a chance to process your enormous loss and reduce the most severe symptoms of grief. This has been proven to be especially effective for children dealing with bereavement (Kalantari, Yule, Dyregrov, Neshat Doost, & Ahmadi, 2012).
However, the recovery that journaling can have the biggest impact on is recovery from addiction. If you’re struggling to overcome an addiction, journaling can help you record your struggles and your accomplishments, hold yourself accountable and allow you an opportunity to work through difficult thoughts and emotions in a healthy manner (Milios, 2015).
Writing our thoughts, feelings, and actions down in a journal allows us to craft and maintain our sense of self and solidifies our identity. It helps us reflect on our experiences and discover our authentic self. Keeping a journal can give you a chance to create and consider the narrative of your life, with all of the choices you have made and the memories that make you who you are today. In a word, the benefits of journaling on recovery is “cathartic” (New Roads Treatment, 2017).
I found Positive Psychology Program a great resource for all things motivational to living a well -balanced life. I garnered a lot of useful information from this one source and highly recommend this site to anyone who is in search of practical tools to implement in their daily lives.
What the future has in store for us is unknown but what we can do is choose healthy coping mechanisms to deal with current and past events. Doing so increases our chances of having carved our own path towards a better future. We cannot change our past from bad decisions or involuntary acts but we do have some control over how our future looks.
Journaling is a process that familiarizes us with who we are. When we know who we are we can successfully share our wisdom with younger generations. The benefits of journaling far outweigh the possibility of failure. Self-awareness holds you responsible and accountable and gaining this through journaling will improve your decision-making skills, overall mental wellness and assist in your recovery.
So? What are you waiting for?? Grab a journal today!!
Do you journal? How has it impacted your mental health?